Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

JFC wastes little time approving $810-million rail line

Legislation, Taxes

I am extremely disappointed that the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted along party lines to approve spending over $800-million in federal stimulus money to construct a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. Some of the money will also be used to update existing track that connects Milwaukee to Chicago.

The cost of the rail line is equivalent to two Miller Parks. You may recall the contentious debate about Miller Park took several months. Yet in less than one half-hour, the JFC debated and voted to approve a likely huge boondoggle.

Because the federal allotment for the rail line is nearly $8-million short of expenses, there is a deficit to the project. The state must find a way to fund nearly $8-million every year for operating expenses.

Subsidizing this massive project will jeopardize current and future Wisconsin projects across the state that have been put on hold due to the state Transportation Fund deficit that is exacerbated by Governor Doyle’s numerous Transportation Fund raids.

Job creation claims made by proponents are dubious. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
reports, “
Only 55 permanent jobs would be created to operate and maintain the trains, tracks and stations, starting in 2013, the application says.”

An amendment to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the project was rejected along party lines.

According to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo, “Approval of the Governor’s request for $810 million for the Milwaukee to Madison high-speed rail project would allow the Department to proceed with work on the project, with the goal of initiating service in January, 2013.”

The rush to judgment on rail will cost the state heavily at a time it can least afford.

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